Wednesday, 27 January 2016

A taste of CrossFit


I have been intrigued by CrossFit for a while now, I wasn't 100% sure of what it would involve, but the curiosity in me only grew when I saw an advert on Facebook for a local CrossFit gym who were looking for 10 people to take part in a series of taster challenges over the course of January. Before I knew what I was doing, I had filled in the application form and was sat with my fingers crossed hoping to get the opportunity. 

CrossFit is high intensity workouts that are constantly varied to ensure that the body cannot and will not get used to the routine. After all tossing up the routine is essential when it comes to fitness, the last thing you want is for your body to get used to what you do. You don't want your body expecting what's to come day in and out, and routines can get a little bit exhausting if they aren't switched up from time to time.

I first heard about CrossFit through the Reebok CrossFit Championships that were organised by RPM Ltd. It looked fantastic and saw 500 elite athletes competing at nigh high impact events across Europe, with the Berlin final being broadcast live on Eurosport! 

Kayla Itsines Transoformation
In all honesty I wasn't sure what to expect when I pulled up at the new gym, I sat there in my car for a little while pondering how I felt about what I was about to do. Would I be able to keep up with everybody else? Should I just turn around and go home?  Thankfully the group was entirely made up of newbies so the reality was not as daunting as I had worried it might be.

That first session was incredible. To say it was hard work didn't do the work out justice but they had me doing things that I had longed to do, but had never had the guts to try in my usual gym through fear of having no clue what I was doing. I did my first ever box jumps on a 16" box, it might sound like nothing, but I was so proud of myself. As I looked around the room I noticed that no one else was jumping, they were standing up and standing down. I did bar bell squats and very quickly worked the weight up to 32.2kg (over 5 stone!) which beat my personal best.

The following weeks got harder, and unfortunately I managed to injure myself through a set of deadlifts. It felt like something tore in my abdomen, and for the next few weeks I had to take a break from training. The injury resulted in muscle spasms, something that I have never experienced before and I couldn't help thinking that it was worse than labour. I ended up at the doctors just to rule out any serious injuries and she confirmed that it was a strained muscle, and that I absolutely had to rest it to ensure that it healed up properly. 

That meant I couldn't return to finish the CrossFit sessions which I was pretty disappointed about. I love that I at least got to experience the nature of this sport and can completely see why it is so popular. Although I won't be carrying this training on long term, I will most certainly be taking aspects of this sport and applying it into my ongoing training routine. 

4 Kid-Friendly Living Room Decorating Ideas

Sometimes it can be really difficult to juggle your responsibilities as a homeowner and a parent. We love our kids, but we also know just how destructive they can be to their environment and themselves. It's important to make sure that your living room is a safe place where kids can have fun and be entertained, but it’s just as important to make sure the space is also protected to the best extent you can make it from whatever damage your children are intending to inflict upon it!

On that note, here are four kid-friendly living room decorating ideas:

  1. Make your walls more attractive
The walls of most living rooms are boring with a capital B! You don't have to settle for that, and you can make your living room look great with some fantastic kid-friendly designs by using these removable wall stickers.  This way, you aren't stuck with the design, and because the wall is already decorated, it may just help to keep your little ones from trying to decorate the wall for you.

Something simple and inexpensive like this can really brighten up a dull room, but because it's not a permanent change, it won't have any negative effect on the value of your home unless you decide to leave them in place when you sell.

  1. Choose furniture that is appropriate
Parents often make the mistake of buying furniture when they have children, and that's definitely something you should never do. There are a number of reasons why, but the main ones are that your needs are going to change as your children grow, and children can be really destructive, so it's better to deal with a furniture rentals company than to go out and invest thousands on furniture that might not last as long as you’d like it to.

The other issue with this is that the furniture needs to be safe. This is a really important consideration, and you should never forget that sharp corners, hooks, and protrusions are a much bigger threat to small children than they are to us. These are at eye level for kids, so it's much easier for them to literally run into trouble.

  1. For kids, smooth and durable flooring is the best choice
One of the really frustrating experiences of childhood is that you know instinctively that toy cars always work better indoors, but adults usually make really weird floor choices that get in the way of all the fun. A hardwood floor is often the best choice, because it is softer than tile and provides a more even surface. A fall will still hurt, but nowhere near as much as it would on a tile floor.

Carpet is definitely a bad idea if you have children. They'll not only find every possible way to ruin it, but it also gets caught in the wheels of their toys and can give nasty carpet burns that hurt like you wouldn't believe.

  1. "Fence off" appliances
Things like heaters, air conditioners, and fans can pose a major risk to young children, and they should be made inaccessible to little fingers. This means you need to find some way to isolate the space that these things exist in from the space that your children exist in. It may cause some minor inconvenience, but this is much better than if your children injure themselves.

Having said the above, the takeaway point of it all is that your living room needs to a space that the entire family can enjoy and be safe in. The living room is where lifelong memories for kids are made so do your best to make sure they’re all positive ones. 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

10 Good Reasons to Visit Cefalù

Trip to Cefalu

Have you ever heard of Cefalù? Located in the northern coast of the beautiful island of Sicily, it is one of the most visited seaside resorts in the province of Palermo. Included in the list of Italy’s most beautiful villages, there are so many good reasons to consider it in your itinerary. If you are traveling with your entire family or on a romantic holiday, you can start checking on local websites such as to find some villas in Cefalù for rent that can accommodate individual needs and provide a comfortable place as your base.

1.                The Rocca – To the Phoenicians who once settled in the area eons of ages ago, it is known as Hercules’ Promontory. With an altitude of 270 meters, it is a spectacular calcareous massive crag which requires visitors a one-hour climb to the top. Medieval walls surround the area at the top. At the very summit, remains of the battlements from a Norman castle can be found. The view of the coast below is striking from this vantage point, with the occasional peregrine falcon to keep you company.

2.                The Cathedral – One of the main tourist sites in the area, it draws people due to its architectural style which is a mix of various cultural influences such as Latin, Norman, Arab, and Greek. The mosaics on golden background are one of the most striking elements to be found there.
3.                The Lungomare Giuseppe Giardina – This is the long beach which is located on the curve below the old town. Swimming, lolling on the beach or afternoon strolls are typical activities with one part of the beach a public area and another part lined with lidos where you can rent umbrellas and sunbeds.

4.                The Lavatoio – This is the public laundry in the Middle Ages located in the heart of the city on Via Vittorio Emanuele. This is the area where women gather to wash clothes and bathe. A series of basins line up in an unusual arrangement.

5.                Temple of Diana – Remains of a megalithic temple dedicated to Diana is one of the tourist attractions in Cefalù. It is known as one of the oldest places of worship in all of Europe built by the early native people of Sicily, the Sicans.

6.                Museo Mandralisca – There is a wide range of collections that include history, archaeology paintings and decorative arts. Visit to see the Arab and Greek vases and ceramics and other exquisite artifacts that were found at Lipari, Tindari and Cefalù.

7.                The Church of Purgatory – Having one of the most beautiful facades in the area, the Church of Santo Stefano is so-called due to the large altarpiece depicting Christ giving Eucharist to souls in Purgatory.

8.                The Bastion – This is a remarkable terrace on the sea of Cefalù. On clear days, one can see the Aeolian Islands and a large part of the eastern coastline of Sicily.

9.                Porta Marina – There is a Gothic arch which is the only remaining city gate of the original four that was once used as entrance to the town. From here, one can find the fishermen’s quarter, a beautiful part of the seafront with its colourful old tiny houses. 

10.           Osteria Magno – Roger II’s favorite home, it is characterized by two architectural styles. The facade dates back to the 13th century while the square tower to the 14th century. Completely restored, it is now presently used as a place for art exhibitions and lectures.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Once upon a time before BBG

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

It might come as a surprise to some of you to discover that I haven't always had the confidence instilled in me today. I haven't always had the courage to try new things, put myself out there, or the inclination to meet new people. For a long time I liked to blend into the background afraid of the spotlight ever shining my way. 

I thought way to hard about the way I looked, how the world would perceive me. I spent so much time getting ready because I never felt like I was enough, I would wash my hair, dry my hair and straighten my hair before allowing myself to leave the house. Pony tails were a big 'no no' as I felt they made my face look odd and drew attention to my nose. My hair was worn down and straight, day in and day out. It was my way of making me feel like I was acceptable now to face the world.

If people whispered I would automatically assume that it was something to do with me. Was there something on my back? Had I got food on my face? I never felt part of a group although I would never let on. You see along with my insecurities I was also very proud. I felt that by drawing attention to any of those things, I was just making a rod for my own back, because if people knew about my insecurities, if they truly knew these things were a issue in my heart and in my mind, they ultimately had the power to destroy me.

I could never get my head around people sharing their insecurities, people saying 'I'm to fat' out loud for the world to hear. I could never bring myself to say them out loud. Never. I didn't want to draw that negative attention to myself, I didn't want people to know that I felt that way. 

Looking back on it all now, no one really would have had a clue. I was a fantastic magician and anything I did feel was buried so deep within me that no one would ever know. No one knew that I was to scared to show the 'real me', that I was afraid no one would like me, that I wished I had a bigger chest or wished I could change my body, to be skinnier and prettier, that I felt like an outsider or that I really wasn't happy in my skin. 

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

When I write it all down i'm aware I sound like a manic depressive but it wasn't like that. These thoughts would pop into my mind, but I shrugged them off, they didn't consume me. Although I wasn't confident I was strong willed and never without a smile. In fact to anyone reading this who knows me in real life, I imagine these revelations are not something they would have ever thought ran through my mind. I was far from quiet around people I knew, but put me in a class at school with people I didn't really know, you would get an entirely different person. I would sit there and not say a word unless I was spoken to, and even then it was short and sweet. 

Friends would describe me as loud and the teachers would tell my parents how quiet I was.

It has taken me years to truly feel happy in the skin I am in. I no longer look at other women and think 'Wow. I wish I had her legs, her tummy or her arms'. I look in the mirror and there is no one else I would want to be. I have accepted that I am who I am. I am the very best version of me that I can be. It's taken me a long time to reach this mind set but through working on myself I have found that sanctuary.

Today my hair is mainly up in a pony tail, I don't care how it makes my face look. I usually rock out of bed late and a pony tail is the quickest way to a half decent hair style that I can muster before I have to fly out of the door. I usually head straight to the gym from the school run, so having my hair out of my face is the only real option. I rarely straighten my hair these days, I get out of the shower, blow dry it, and 9 times out of 10 put it back in a pony tail. I haven't even had a hair cut or colour since June last year, and I am closer to my natural hair colour than I have been in over 10 years. 

Today my new found confidence has over spilled into my everyday life. I am no longer scared to drive on motorways, or do things completely on my own. I don't need someone to hold my hand and I love a new challenge. 

Any anxiety I once felt has been completely blown away.

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

Today I look for adventure in everything that I do, I no longer hide away in the corner. I meet new people all of the time, and I make friends so much more easily than I used to. I no longer feel like an outsider looking in, and I have an incredible group of friends who I know would have my back through anything and everything. 

Im not afraid to stand out anymore. Im not afraid to shine. Im not afraid to show who I really am. Not everyone is going to like me, and do you know what? That is absolutely fine. I can't change that but I would rather be hated for being myself then accepted or tolerated because of who I choose to represent. 

My mind set was changed slowly and over time, as I began following Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide, exercising regularly, seeing my body change and slowly but surely learning to love myself. The journey has not just changed my body but it has reset my mind set. I now no longer care what people think about me, I don't care about rocking to the super market after an intense work out at the gym, I don't care if anyone see's me rocking my worst outfit combined with my uggs or if my hair is drenched with sweat. 

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

I don't care.

It wasn't a quick fix, it didn't happen over night, but over time I have finally got to my happy place.

Life is far to short to care all of the time, and for the first time in my entire life I feel content with just being me. It wasn't about changing myself for other people, I made changes so that I was happy with myself. Being happy on the inside has radiated through my body and reflects out to for the world to see, today I smile more, and I laugh more.

Now if someone asks 'Who does she think she is!?' I have no problem standing up, looking them straight in the eyes and saying 'this is ME!'. 

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

Monday, 11 January 2016

New Year, Same Me

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

January is the month we make resolutions and promises to ourselves. It's the start of a new year, and it's the opportunity to better ourselves and to grow. For many people health and fitness is the top of the priority list, whether it's just to clean up old eating habits and push aside the takeaways, or to make those tentative first steps to get into shape. 
January is the month that we make those resolutions and promises to ourselves.

As we step further away from 2015 and prepare for another year, I think it is important to set goals so that we can try to excel ourselves and grow. I have thought long and hard about my own goals that I would like to achieve this year and they look something like this:

- Sort my skin out, Christmas has brought out swarms of spots!
- Start #TheKaylaMovement on the 11th January 2016
- Not to miss a work out
- To be stronger and fitter than 2015
- To meet and work out with many more BBG ladies!
- To step further out of my comfort zone
- Start a new class
- Push myself

Cross Fit Scores
I have already taken on some new challenges in 2016, just last week I joined a Cross Fit taster session that spans over the next few weeks. This alone is something that a year ago I would never have done, going along to a session where I knew nobody would have scared the living daylights out of me. Not knowing about the exercises or what is expected from me, would have put me off even giving it a go. I wouldn't have even considered it, and I would have written it off before even saying 'Wait one minute Laura, give it a go!'.

I actually saw the advert on Facebook, and instead of just scrolling past it I clicked through. I read it, and didn't think twice about filling out my details. It was something that I really wanted to try, and I crossed my fingers hoping I got the opportunity. They were searching for 10 newbies to take part in the sessions throughout January and I didn't for a moment expect to hear back from them, but I was lucky enough to be chosen to go along and take part in a training session that is completely different to anything I have ever done before.

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

Cross Fit is high intensity workouts that are constantly varied to ensure that the body cannot and will not get used to the routine. After all routine is the enemy when it comes to fitness, your bodies get used to what you do, and routines can became boring and mundane. 

In all honesty though when I pulled up at the new gym, I sat there in my car for a little while. Would I fit in? Would I be able to keep up with everybody else? Should I just turn around and go home? As soon as those thoughts entered my mind, I got out of the car and walked towards the building. The gym is a boxed room, it looks like a real man's gym and not somewhere I ever envisioned myself feeling at home. I walked in and met some of the other newbies, some of who weren't regulars in the gym and were taking the initiative to try something new. 

The session was incredible. Bloody hard work but they had me doing things that I had longed to do, but didn't want to try in my usual gym through fear of having no clue what I was doing. I did my first ever box jumps on a 16" box, it might sound like nothing, but I was so proud of myself. As I looked around the room I noticed that no one else was jumping, they were standing up and standing down. I did bar bell squats and very quickly worked the weight up to 32.2kg (over 5 stone!) which beat my personal best.

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

The end of the session saw us working through a circuit with 8 minutes on the clock. The name of the game was to get as many rounds in as possible. When the clock called time, everyone collapsed on the floor, and I stood there catching my breath, but I wasn't ruined. I could have carried on, and it was then for the very first time, I realised how much my stamina has improved over this past year. Once upon a time I wouldn't have been able to do that, and it was while I was jumping on the box that one of the ladies called out to me 'HOW ARE YOU DOING THAT!?', but I hadn't thought twice. I guess it just goes to show that when your persistent with something, you do grow and develop.

The last session was on Thursday evening, and it focused mainly on arms. There were pull ups, reverse pull ups and Kettle Bell Snatches to name a few. This session officially kicked my bum and 4 days later my arms, chest, shoulders and back are still burning, the thought of going back and inflicting more pain tomorrow not only makes me shiver, but excites me. This after all is the only way that I am going to get stronger, and this burn means that it's working.

Towards the end of 2015 I slacked, I was still working out but my food routine was shaken up and I was just an eating machine. This meant that I lost definition and put on a few lbs. I am now ready to get this show on the road and surpass where I was in the Summer. Yes I blipped, but I am taking my fitness by the horns and really pushing myself. In turn Christmas didn't help, I only took 2 days off, but those 2 days have brought some beautiful spots to the surface. Spots that won't go away, spots that are leaving dry peely skin in their wake.

Spots from unhealthy eating

I am hoping that now my diet is back on track, that normality is resuming following the Christmas period that I can start to really push myself. 

I have already told myself that 2016 is going to be an incredible year, so I decided to spontaneously book a trip to New York with some of the BBG Girlies for November. You know meeting girls on Instagram and jetting off to New York is just totally normal in 2016!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and I hope 2016 is treating you guys well. What are your resolutions for the New Year?
Abs after kids

How Flowers Can Change Your Mood and Attitude

How Flowers Can Change Your Mood and Attitude

Flowers are perhaps the most beautiful part of the natural world. They come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and scents, and they make most people smile when they see them. But is it possible that flowers can do more than make you happy? Could receiving flowers actually affect your mood in a positive way long-term? Read below to find out, and then perhaps send some flowers to your friends and loved ones.

An Instant Boost of Happy

If you have ever received flowers, you might remember how they made you feel. Perhaps you felt loved and cared about and therefore happier. Flowers are an instant boost of happiness that is mostly universal. Most people like at least one kind of flower. Finding out which one they like and sending them a bouquet can be a great way of telling someone that they matter to you and making them happy as well.

Long-term Positive Effects

Flowers improve people’s moods in the short-term, but there are some very important long-term effects as well. Studies show that people who keep flowers in their homes tend to have a lessening of depression and negative feelings. These people also report an increase in their enjoyment of their lives.

Banish the Morning Blahs

Having freshly cut flowers in your home on a regular basis and looking at them first thing in the morning can help rid you of the early morning doldrums. The brightly colored blooms provide an increase in energy and enthusiasm. This can carry over to your work life. If you are more energetic and enthusiastic at work, your productivity increases. Your increased feeling of joy may also affect your co-workers and foster better camaraderie in your workplace which will lead to a better, healthier environment for everyone, you, your co-workers and even your employer.

Fresh flowers have a positive effect on the lives of everyone who receives them. They brighten up your home, improve your mood and increase your energy levels. Flowers can increase feelings of connection and compassion and may even better your work life as well. They also provide an instant boost of happiness to their lucky recipients, including me. I loved my flowers sent over by the FFE team! So, the next time you receive flowers from a friend or loved one, get ready to reap the benefits of increased emotional well-being.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas was here in the very blink of an eye, the weeks had gone by so very quickly and your excitement had simply grown beyond anything I have ever seen before. This year you couldn't stop talking about Santa Clause, you knew that on Christmas Eve he would be flying through the skies on his way to bring all of the good boys and girls gifts to open on Christmas morning. 

All you had asked for was a racing car like Mummy's. A blue Mini Cooper that you would be able to drive yourself. When Father Christmas asked what you wanted, you replied with exactly this, and he promised you that he would do his very best. This in turn made you beam for ear to ear, and you came away even more excited for the big day.

We cuddled up on the sofa on that magical night before Christmas to watch the Snowman while you opened up your Christmas Eve box and found an abundance of treats waiting for you. The magic of the night sparkled in your eyes and echoed across your face. A true innocence witnessing such wonder in the ordinary world wrapped around us, it was enough to make even the Grinch get into the Christmas spirit.

I put you to bed early on Christmas Eve explaining that the sooner you drifted off to sleep, the sooner Santa would arrive. The sooner you would wake up and see the treats that Santa had delivered in the night. Of course being four years old, being as excited as you were.. Sleep didn't come easily. At 10pm you were still wide awake fighting off sleep in the hope of catching a glimpse of the man in red himself.

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

You slept in later than I had expected on Christmas morning, but once you were awake I couldn't keep you upstairs. You found your stocking and shrieked with excitement as you bounded around the room in your rather gorgeous new Joules Pyjamas, and with that you were leading me downstairs to the lounge where the Christmas Tree was standing tall and proud over all of the gifts that now lay beneath.

With eyes shining like glass and a smile as wide as the moon, you asked if you could open a present. We found one out for you and the gift opening commenced, it became apparent that this year you wouldn't need weeks or even months to open them as you have in recent years, we would quite easily open them within a few hours at the rate you were going.

Once the gifts under the tree had been exhausted I turned to you. 'Leo, did you get your racing car?' your head lowered and the happy expression that had once illuminated your face went dark. There was no racing car in sight, and you looked incredibly disappointed, we seized the opportunity to go and cook up some breakfast in an attempt to put that smile back where it belonged.

Mini Beechcomber Electric Car

I recall sitting at the kitchen table, and I had already spotted a shiny red racing car in the corner of the room.. I tried to call you over so that you could discover it for yourself, but your stubborn head had come out to play. You even started to whine, until suddenly the penny dropped and out of the corner of your eye... You saw the car that was sat waiting for you!

Of course you had to go outside to play right away. There was absolutely no messing around to be done here, not when there was such a beautiful new racing car to be broken in. You spent most of the morning whizzing around and getting used to the controls. and in fairness you handled it very well. Your face when you slipped it in the fastest mode might have been the highlight of my day, as your face spoke a 1000 words in that split second you leaped forward.

Ladder bed

The rest of the day was spent playing with new toys and sorting them all into your room. I had just installed a brand new bed into your room, a ladder bed. It had been something you had wanted for a long time, and the timing seemed perfect. It meant that your crowded room was completely de-cluttered, all of your toys had a home and you had so much floor space to now enjoy.

Christmas Dinner

With everything upstairs it was time to sit down for Christmas dinner, you had been really looking forward to it, but at the very last minute decided that you would rather have a ham sandwich (a Christmas Sandwich as you called it...). So while the rest of the family tucked into a tasty Turkey with all the trimmings, you enjoyed your sandwich. You did enjoy pulling crackers with Granddad though and the table was full of laughter throughout the meal.

After lunch you took me out for a drive in your racing car, you placed a protective arm around me and chauffeured me like the superstar that you are.

It was a beautiful Christmas and watching you enjoy the magic of the season was the most amazing feeling yet.

Here's to another amazing year, whatever this year may bring.

Mini Beechcomber Electric Car

Mini Beechcomber Electric Car

Mini Beechcomber Electric Car